Vices and Devices, Part 2

In shooting around the cities this summer, it has become painfully aware that people spend far too much time on their mobile devices.  Mostly, this is our smartphones, which have increasingly penetrated our lives to the very core.  The vast majority of us are now addicted to them, slavishly devoting every spare moment to them.  Studies have recently shown that this constant exposure is, in fact, re-wiring our brains permanently.  Before we even know what we are doing to ourselves, the changes may have already created lasting effects.  Some studies point to radiation levels emitted by cell phones, others argue that the addiction is messing with our brains…the point is that all this use of electronic devices is not necessarily good for us, and it’s happening so fast that we don’t have time to assess what is happening.

Let me ask you this: has your device become simply a vice?

I opened yesterday’s post with the same introduction and question.  That, my friends, is where the copy-and-paste ends, and the new material begins!  I just figured I should include it for anyone who missed yesterday’s post (if you did, you should check it out here).

Bored at work?  Check your twitter feed!

Basically, we use our mobile devices far too much.  According to the studies (linked above) I posted, and others, we are doing harm to ourselves; we also endanger public safety using them when we drive, or even walk down the street without paying attention to our surroundings; and there is no doubt that our social interactions have suffered greatly, especially among younger people (myself included here…wait, I’m near 30 years old…am I still considered young?).

Can’t cross due to a red light?  Get that phone out, man, and do something with it!

People don’t really know how to talk to each other anymore; most people can’t hold real conversations.

Reading anything in its entirety is a rarity, owing to the fact that your browser always has a few more tabs open with other things to browse–so who can take the time to read an entire article?

Nobody seems to be able to focus on anything they are doing, since phones are always at the ready, and there is constantly some notification requiring your attention–a text, email, tweet, call, message, status update, etc.

Is just plain walking too boring?  Then why not walk and text!

So where do we go from here?

Well that is a damn good question.  I’m not entirely sure.  I know that we can’t keep doing what we are doing with our devices (and I’m singling out mobile devices as a particular problem, but we could look at televisions, video games, computers, etc as well.  In fact, television services no offer service to up to 7 rooms in a house, so that everyone can sit in their own room and watch their own thing!  Isn’t that the ultimate on-demand, in addition to our mobile devices?).  I know that I am as guilty as the next guy (or girl) and so I have to stop doing it as well.

Waiting for the bus?  Make a phone call so you don’t have to simply sit and enjoy a beautiful day!

I know that I am being slightly flippant here, but you have to admit that the addiction, once you raise your face from your iPhone to look around you, is amusing.  Well, if I don’t laugh I’m going to slap everyone who has their face buried in their phone and then it will get ugly :D

So, I have started turning my phone off.  Not just at night, but for long stretches during the day.  Entire days even.  And you know what?  It feels great.

I stop worrying about who is texting me, or what else I could be doing with my phone.  It’s off, in a cabinet, and that’s all I need to know.  I have started avoiding headphones (which I used to have all the time) and listening to the ambient sounds around me on the street, or even in my house.  The sounds of silence.  And I have begun to read more books.  Like, actual books on a page–not on an iPad.

This may all sound a little quaint and hokey, but that’s better than the status quo.

At least I can make it from the store to my car without getting my phone out now…

So I will continue to shoot people with their devices out in public (with a camera, not actually shooting–although I want to sometimes if you’re texting and driving!).  And I will continue to tell others about not having a phone.

We really don’t want to end up like the people in Wall-E…do we?

Put your thoughts/comments/responses down below and let me know what you think.  Are you addicted to your device?  Do you need to break the habit?  Are you fed up with others using their phones constantly, especially when it endangers others?  Put a comment below for others to read.  We’re all in this together!

-Trevor

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10 Comments

  1. I am notorious for ignoring my phone–not to make a statement as my dear husband is doing, but because I am a hermit and social introvert by nature and I tend to avoid all social situations, virtual or real. I think one of the big drawbacks of our reliance on technology is that we are not learning some simple life skills due to all the apps that are available to save us time–maps and tip calculators to name a couple. How many youngsters could open a paper map and navigate a route in these days of Google?

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  2. Your point about already being more aware of ambient sounds just by turning off your phone actually made me start to wonder about the future of instinct/intuition and creativity. With our brains rewired, are we going to just completely lose our abilities to identify safe situations, edible foods, beauty, etc? And does that mean future generations will be born with less and less organic knowledge, and a lower capacity for gaining new knowledge? I already meet more people these days with less ability for logic and problem-solving, compared to 15-20 years ago.

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  3. Well, I admit to some addiction. But as one who grew up in the pre-digital world, I’m still in awe of the information at my fingertips- my own personal Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature and reference librarian.

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  4. Good point, Trevor! I use my phone rarely and briefly because I dislike talking to people by phone. On the other hand, I confess I depend too much on my computer…

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  5. You know, you could have given people a heads up on the turning the phone off. Though I’m quite used to you ignoring texts anyways, so I suppose it’s not a huge deal. On to the subject at hand, I will not be turning mine off, and not because of all important texts, or emails, and certainly not for facebook’s sake. But because with it I have more knowlege in my pocket than my brain can store. I can only remember so much, but the internet remembers all, and my phone is my always on gateway to this knowledge(read wikipedia). But to each his own, as they say.

    Reply

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